M1: 11 May 2019 - Witney

You know it’s coming, it’s inevitable, it’s in the background of one’s consciousness, but still I’ve put off joining in. Others in my tower have become involved, people in the Branch have extoled its virtues, so now’s the time to find out for myself. So, what is it? In bellringing it’s called ART. Others may disagree but I see it as a form of responsibility, to be “recognised” when passing on one’s knowledge in bellringing and knowing it’s been to a level of quality nationally recognised. Of course that’s taken for granted in our working life, and through other voluntary organisations I’ve been involved with the Scouts, the RLSS, I never batted an eyelid at the thought of going on training courses, becoming accredited and having the ability to offer a nationally recognised qualification or certificate at the end of any training. So, what’s different about bellringing?

I believe times have changed, in particular with regard to student expectations, litigation, and of course the ever-prevailing internet. As one person I couldn’t possible provide the range of training material which is available from a large organisation, or even start to provide any online form of record progress, logging, and experience sharing. The Sherbourne teaching aids whilst invaluable tools only provided part of the picture. You may not like it, but bellringing has to remain relevant and keep up to date or it risks becoming a pastime for an elite few, leaving many hundreds of rings of bells silent. Just because we train people for free and in a voluntary capacity doesn’t mean that training should itself be compromised or of a variable standard, no matter the student’s capabilities. We must reach out and offer more training to more people, in the hope a few will become the next generation to keep the skill alive, and the realisation that a new skill is not for everyone.

So, I’ve now gone on a Module 1 course. I found it was well run by a knowledgeable teacher, who is putting this all in to practise in their own teaching environment. It covered the range of information which is required to enable the teaching of bellringing, and yes they even had some new ideas. Its clear a one day course doesn’t make you a teacher, but with a nationally assessed scheme it should be possible to provide an even level of critique to all those aspiring to become accredited as teachers, and for new ringing students to be confident in their teacher’s ability once they have gained that accreditation. It wasn’t as rigid and prescribed as I had feared, and as with any tutor-student relationship it still relies on the good sense and ability of teachers to select from a range of techniques to achieve that final goal. I’ll put this in to practise myself and see how it goes.

So, a final thought, “Not all great ringers make great teachers, and not all great teachers make great ringers” but let’s make sure all new ringers have the chance to become great, and that must start with being taught to ring properly themselves.

John Brookman, Shenley

Course Tutor: Clare McArdle

Teaching Bell Handling

Practical advice for teachers, right from the first lesson.

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